DIY Metal Detector Gives You The Mettle To Find Some Medals

Hurricane season is rapidly approaching those of us who live in the northern hemisphere. While that does come with a good deal of stress for any homeowners who live in the potential paths of storms it also comes with some opportunities for treasure hunting. Storms tend to wash up all kinds of things from the sea, and if you are equipped with this DIY metal detector you could be unearthing all kinds of interesting tchotchkes from the depths this year.

The metal detector comes to us from [mircemk] who is known for building simple yet effective metal detectors. Unlike his previous builds, this one uses only a single integrated circuit, the TL804 operational amplifier. It also works on the principle of beat-balance which is an amalgamation of two unique methods of detecting metal.  When the wire coils detect a piece of metal in the ground, the information is fed to an earpiece through an audio jack which rounds out this straightforward build.

[mircemk] reports that this metal detector can detect small objects like coins up to 15 cm deep, and larger metal objects up to 50 cm. Of course, to build this you will also need the support components, wire, and time to tune the circuit. All things considered, though it’s a great entryway into the hobby.

Want to learn more about metal detecting? Check out this similar-looking build which works on the induction balance principle.

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How To Spot A Fake Op-Amp

We’re all aware that there are plenty of fake components to be found if you’re prepared to look in the right places, and that perhaps too-good-to-be-true chip offers on auction sites might turn out to have markings which rub off to reveal something completely different underneath. [IMSAI Guy] saw a batch of OP-07 laser-trimmed op-amps at a bargain price, so picked them up for an investigation. You can take a look at the video below the break.

A perfect op-amp has a zero volt output when both of its inputs are at the same voltage, but in practice no real device approaches this level of perfection. It’s referred to as the offset voltage, and for instrumentation work where a low offset voltage is important there are parts such as the OP-07 which have each been adjusted using a laser to trim their components for the lowest offset. This process is expensive, so naturally so are genuine OP-07s.

Identifying real versus fake op-amps in this case is as simple as hooking the chip up as a unity gain non-inverting amplifier and measuring the voltage on the output (we can’t help a tinge of envy at that Keithley 2015 THD multimeter!), from which measurement the fakes should be clearly visible. First up are some 741s with their > 1 mV offsets (though an outlier 741 had a 40μV offset) to show what a cheap op-amp could be expected to do, then we see the OP-07s. Immediately with an offset of > 1.2 mV  we can tell that they’re fake, which as he admits for the price is hardly a surprise. Meanwhile we’ll keep an eye out for Korean-made 741s like the outlier low-offset device.

If you’re interested by op-amp internals may we suggest a look at the first IC op-amp, meanwhile this isn’t the first fake chip we’ve seen.

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PsyLink An Open Source Neural Interface For Non-Invasive EMG

We don’t see many EMG (electromyography) projects, despite how cool the applications can be. This may be because of technical difficulties with seeing the tiny muscular electrical signals amongst the noise, it could be the difficulty of interpreting any signal you do find. Regardless, [hut] has been striving forwards with a stream of prototypes, culminating in the aptly named ‘Prototype 8’

The current prototype uses a main power board hosting an Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense, as well as a boost converter to pump up the AAA battery to provide 5 volts for the Arduino and a selection of connected EMG amplifier units. The EMG sensor is based around the INA128 instrumentation amplifier, in a pretty straightforward configuration. The EMG samples along with data from the IMU on the Nano 33 BLE Sense, are passed along to a connected PC via Bluetooth, running the PsyLink software stack. This is based on Python, using the BLE-GATT library for BT comms, PynPut handing the PC input devices (to emit keyboard and mouse events) and tensorflow for the machine learning side of things. The idea is to use machine learning from the EMG data to associate with a specific user interface event (such as a keypress) and with a little training, be able to play games on the PC with just hand/arm gestures. IMU data are used to augment this, but in this demo, that’s not totally clear.

An earlier prototype of the PsyLink.

All hardware and software can be found on the project codeberg page, which did make us double-take as to why GnuRadio was being used, but thinking about it, it’s really good for signal processing and visualization. What a good idea!

Obviously there are many other use cases for such a EMG controlled input device, but who doesn’t want to play Mario Kart, you know, for science?

Checkout the demo video (embedded below) and you can see for yourself, just be aware that this is streaming from peertube, so the video might be a little choppy depending on your local peers. Finally, if Mastodon is your cup of tea, here’s the link for that. Earlier projects have attempted to dip into EMG before, like this Bioamp board from Upside Down Labs. Also we dug out an earlier tutorial on the subject by our own [Bil Herd.]

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A 7805 Regulator puts out 6.3 Volts

Simple Electronic Hacks Inspire Doing More With Less

It’s late at night. The solder smoke keeps getting in your tired eyes, but your project is nearly done. The main circuit is powered by your 13.8 V bench supply, but part of the circuit needs 9 V. You dig into your stash to find your last LM7809 voltage regulator, but all you have is a bunch of LM7805’s. Are you done for the night? Not if you’ve watched [0033mer]’s Simple Electronic Circuit Hacks video! You know just what to do. The ground pin of a LM7805 connects to the cathode of a TL431 programmable Zener diode pulled from an old scrapped TV. The diode is referenced to a voltage divider, and voila! Your LM7805 is now putting out a steady 9 V.

How did [0033mer] become adept at doing more with less? As he explains in the video below, his primary source of parts in The Time Before The Internet was old TV’s that were beyond repair. Using N-Channel MOSFETs to switch AC, sensing temperature changes with signal diodes, and even replacing a 555 with a blinking LED are just a few of the hacks covered in the video below the break.

We especially appreciated the simple, to-the-point presentation that inspires us to keep on hacking in the truest sense: Doing more with less! If you enjoy a good diode hack like we do, you will likely appreciate learning Diode Basics by W2AEW, or a Diode Based Radiation Detector.

Thank you [DSM] for the tip! Be sure to submit your the cool things you come across to our Tips Line!

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Vacuum Tube Magic Comes To The 741

Some of you may remember a recent project that featured on these pages, a 555 timer reproduced using vacuum tubes. Its creator [Usagi Electric] was left at loose ends while waiting for a fresh PCB revision of the 555 to be delivered, so set about creating a new vacuum tube model of a popular chip, this time the ubiquitous 741 op-amp. (Video, embedded below.)

The circuit is fairly straightforward, using six small pentodes. The first two are  a long-tailed pair as might be expected, followed by two gain stages, then a final gain stage feeding a cathode follower with feedback. It’s neatly built on a PCB with IC-style “pins” made from more PCB material, then put in a huge replication of an IC socket on a wooden baseboard.

The result is an op-amp, but not necessarily a good one. He looks at the AC performance instead of the DC even though it’s a fully DC-coupled circuit, and finds that while it performs as expected in a classic op-amp circuit it still differs from the ideal at higher gain. The frequency response is poor too, something he rectifies by replacing the feedback capacitor with a smaller value. Sadly he doesn’t look at its common mode performance, though we’d expect that without close matching of the tubes it might leave something to be desired.

It’s obvious that this project would never be selected as an op-amp given the quality of even the cheapest silicon op-amp in comparison. But its value is in a novelty, a talking point, and maybe a chance to learn about op-amps. For that, we like it.

We covered the vacuum tube 555 when details of it emerged, but if op-amps are your bag we’ve looked at a simple one very closely indeed.

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Exploring Op Amp Loading

Op amps are generally pretty easy to apply, but there are some practical nonideal behaviors you have to keep in mind. [EEforEveryone] takes a test board with some 2X amplifiers on it and — after some fiddling around with the scope probes — demonstrates the effect of capacitive loading on the output of an op amp. (Video, embedded below.)

The op amp in question is the OP07. In fact, there are two identical opamps looking at the single input. The output of one op amp feeds directly to the scope probes. The second one passes through a bipolar transistor buffer consisting of an NPN and PNP transistor. Both outputs have optional capacitors that can be jumpered in or out of the circuit.

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An Op-Amp From The Ground Up

If we had to pick one part to crown as the universal component in the world of analogue electronics, it would have to be the operational amplifier. The humble op-amp can be configured into so many circuit building blocks that it has become an indispensable tool for designers. It’s tempting to treat an op-amp as a triangular black box in a circuit diagram, but understanding its operation gives an insight into analogue electronics that’s worth having. [Mitsuru Yamada]’s homemade op-amp using discrete components is thus a project of interest, implementing as it does a complete simple op-amp with five transistors.

Looking at the circuit diagram it follows the classic op-amp with a long-tailed pair of NPN transistors driving a PNP gain stage and finally a complimentary emitter follower as an output buffer. It incorporates the feedback capacitor that would have been an external component on early op-amp chips, and it has a couple of variable resistors to adjust the bias. Keen eyed readers will notice its flaws such as inevitably mismatched transistors and the lack of a current mirror in the long-tailed pair, but using those to find fault in a circuit built for learning is beside the point. He demonstrated it in use, and even goes as far as to show it running an audio power amplifier driving a small speaker.

For the dedicated student of op-amps, may we suggest further reading as we examine the first integrated circuit op-amp?